Predators of the hedgehog
Badgers are the principal natural predator of hedgehogs in the UK, as they are the only creature strong enough to overcome the spiny defences. Hedgehogs have been shown to actively avoid areas where badgers are present, and in areas where badger densities are high, hedgehogs are likely to be less common. Badger populations have increased significantly in recent years but there is little evidence to suggest that badgers are the principal driver of our hedgehog decline. Indeed, badgers rarely encounter hedgehogs in gardens, yet they are declining in these habitats as severely as they are in the countryside (we know this through Living with Mammals). Hedgehogs are also doing badly in rural areas characterised by low badger densities (e.g. East Anglia). Where habitat is good, and invertebrates are common, both species can and do coexist.
By linking hedgehog friendly gardens, we can secure a future for hedgehogs alongside charismatic predators such as the badger.
Foxes are known to sometimes predate hedgehogs, though usually an adult hedgehog will be sufficiently protected by its spines. The stomachs of urban foxes are quite often found to contain parts of hedgehogs, though it is likely that this is from scavenging road kill rather than through active predation. Our Living with Mammals survey shows us that foxes and hedgehogs can and do coexist at high densities in the suburban matrix.
Tawny owls and golden eagles are known to very occasionally take hedgehogs in Britain whilst in Europe hedgehogs are regularly taken by eagle owls.
Dogs can and sometimes do attack hedgehogs. Often adult hedgehogs will be sufficiently protected by their spines but sick or young hedgehogs may be killed. Cats are less of a threat as they will usually leave hedgehogs alone after investigating them.